Sunday, October 18, 2009

SEIU, AFL-CIO battle Puerto Rico’s governor over looming layoffs

An article published at thehill.com by Kevin Bogardus titled "SEIU, AFL-CIO battle Puerto Rico’s governor over looming layoffs" reports "the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are battling against Luis Fortuño, Puerto Rico’s GOP governor, over his plan to lay off 17,000 government workers on Nov. 6."

Bogardus also writes the following:
Facing a $3.2 billion budget deficit, Fortuño says he’ll have to shut down the government if he does not lay off workers. The governor already laid off 4,000 workers in June and Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate is already 15 percent.

Dennis Rivera, chair of SEIU Healthcare, and other SEIU officials have been in San Juan since Wednesday. Many of those facing layoffs are SEIU members.

“It is critical. 7,500 members of SEIU are going to lose their jobs. If SEIU cannot help their members in their time of need, what good would this organization be?” Rivera said on the phone from San Juan.

Workers rallied Thursday in San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital, in coordination with a worker strike backed by the unions. Rallies also were held in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia in solidarity with the workers from the U.S. island territory.

In a letter dated Thursday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumkahe said Fortuño needs to reverse his plan to lay off workers. “Laying off public servants, particularly at the scale that the governor is planning, is not only anti-worker, it will set back national efforts towards an economic recovery.”
What this article does not point out is that AFL-CIO President Trumkahe's wording suggests that the AFL-CIO would be willing to accept layoffs on a smaller scale. Despite the pro-imperialist politics of the union tops, real labor solidarity between U.S. and Puerto Rican unionists is possible. It is the duty of all revolutionaries to assist in forging that solidarity and recruting the best elements to the essential task of building a revolutionary workers party based on the principles and program of Lenin and Trotsky in order to provide the leadership the working class requires to win this struggle and many more.

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